Updated on May 16, 2024
Article byRamya Thiyagaraj
Edited byAaron Crowe
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

Bookie Meaning

In gambling, a bookie refers to a person or organization responsible for setting odds, accepting and placing bets, and paying out winnings to gamblers. Bookie betting takes place online or offline in professional sports, casinos, and other important events like politics and celebrities. At the end of the event, they allocate the money collected from bettors from losers to winners.

Also known as a bookmaker, sportsbook, and turf accountant, the bookie makes a profit by charging a percentage of the bet amount in transaction fees. They calculate odds such that both sides of a bet receive the same amount of money. The losing party does not need to take any action while the winner must contact the bookmaker to collect their bet plus winnings minus the fee.


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Key Takeaways

  • Bookie is an individual or organization that accepts and places bets on professional sports, elections, celebrity activities, and other events of historical significance. These bettings can occur online and offline based on the odds that they post or suggest.
  • The term refers to bookmakers in abbreviated form. Betting markets are where bookmakers set odds on certain types of bets. Here, they look for values confining to the odds and charge transaction fees as their profit.
  • The legality of bookmaking differs by jurisdiction. It is illegal for local bookies without a license to operate in areas where gaming is unregulated. And the state and federal betting laws take actions against such bookies and impose penalties, including jail time.

How Does Bookie Work? 

A bookie introduces gamblers to various betting markets. A betting market is a market for odds on bets on sporting events, tournaments, and competitions. Football betting markets, for example, can include odds on match results, total goals or scores, first goalscorer, and victory margin, among other things. Bookie betting is available both online and offline. People who wager prefer to do so online since it is easier to send money to the bookmaker.

The bookmaker usually explains the odds against each team before the game begins. During the game, they remain present in their betting boxes. They record the bettor’s identity and the team they want to support. Once the game is over, the winner collects the winnings. The profitability of a bookie depends on the matching of bets between the buyer and the seller.

A bettor may or may not be satisfied with the outcome of the wager. As a result, the bookmakers’ safety is often at risk. Therefore, they conduct some background research about the bettor before placing the bet. They also calculate the odds using statisticians and developing complex models. Besides, adjusting bookie predictions for a two-sided bet on an event ensures an equal amount for bettors on a win or loss. The bookmaker charges a certain percentage of the wager as their pay, regardless of the event outcome.

In online betting, the bookie software eliminates hurdles that traditional bookmakers face (in papers). A bookie online attracts more bettors by being transparent and straightforward in their dealings. They use inbuilt tools to calculate the odds and estimate the winnings and losses. Also, the software sets betting limits and monitors bets.

The three things that a person should be aware of before placing a wager are as follows:

  1. Type of bet
  2. Bookie predictions
  3. Bet amount

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Video Explanation of Bookie


Responsibilities Of Bookie

The typical responsibilities of individuals in bookie roles are:

  • Setting accurate odds and accepting bets on respective events
  • Working continuously on a computer for adjusting odds for bets that guarantee profits regardless of which party wins or the game outcome
  • Keeping an eye on winning chances in the event
  • Holding the money for a bet before the event starts and operating in person, over the phone, or online
  • Recording bets and paying out winnings to the winners after the event
  • Ensuring betting counters are clean and betting slips are available
  • Making sure that satellite and video systems are functioning and digital displays are showing the updated odds
  • Reporting on suspicious betting patterns, any involvement of underaged gamblers, and checking if other illegal activities underwent to win the bet
  • Training and managing new bookmakers


Example #1

Consider a sporting game where team A is a 5-point favorite (-5) to team B. Charles wants to bet on team A. According to Charles, team A must win by a margin of at least 6 points. If team A wins by scoring 5 points, it is referred to as a “push.” And Charles will receive the money he set to bet. Charles will lose the bet if team A scores 4 points or less.

If he bets on team B and “plus the points” (+5), however, team B must win the game or lose by 4 points or less for him to win the wager.

Example #2

Many people bet on who will be the next President in the 2020 United States election. The close race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden made the contest exciting and rewarding for many bookmakers. For instance, Sportsbet, an Australian online bookmaker, said in November 2020 that it had paid out $16.5 million on over 100,000 bets on Biden becoming the next President of the United States.

Are Bookies Illegal? 

The legality of bookmaking varies with the jurisdiction in which it occurs. Local bookies operating without a license in locations prone to unregulated gambling are illegal. These bookmakers break state and federal regulations by giving odds on sporting events and accepting bets. Also, bookie betting transactions remain tax-exempted. As a result, it becomes unlawful because tax evasion is a federal felony.

Bettors caught participating in illegal sports betting may face penalties, including jail time. Also, governments act against such unregulated local bookies. Therefore, a betting license from the state gaming commission or the lottery commission is a must for all sports betting firms.

Bookmaking is, however, legal in nations like Singapore, Sweden, Canada, and Japan, where it is carried out by bookies and supervised by the government. Sports betting is now also legal in many U.S. states. As a result, local and offshore bookmakers that were once active in the illegal sports betting market closed their doors.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who is a bookie?

A bookie, also known as a bookmaker, sportsbook, and turf accountant, accepts bets on various professional sports, casinos, political events, celebrities, and other important events. They use a book of figures to calculate the odds for betting purposes. The book entries usually extend and add profit to them. The winner collects winnings from the bookmaker as the event culminates.

What are betting offices?

A betting office is the location of a licensed bookmaker. It is open to the public, and anyone can wager on the outcome of any event. Sports, politics, celebrities, and other events of public interest are all subject to wagering.

What does “odds” mean in betting?

The term “odds” refers to the likelihood of the occurrence of a specific outcome for an event. When it comes to gambling, “odds on” refers to the amount that the people stand to win. It is always less than the staked amount. The expression “odds on” is the polar opposite of “odds against.”

This has been a guide to What is Bookie and its Meaning. Here we discuss how does it work along with examples. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –

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